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Hundreds join march through Norwich to demand end to public sector pay cap

PUBLISHED: 15:27 14 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 14 October 2017

Protest march over public sector pay through Norwich City centre.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Protest march over public sector pay through Norwich City centre. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Hundreds of people joined a march through the streets of Norwich to demand that the government brings an end to the public sector pay cap.

Protest march over public sector pay through Norwich City centre.
Picture: Nick ButcherProtest march over public sector pay through Norwich City centre. Picture: Nick Butcher

The government signalled that the pay freeze for public sector workers could come to an end next year, after agreeing a controversial increase for police and prison officers.

Downing Street last month announced the 1pc annual pay cap would be lifted for police officers and prison officers and committed to wider “flexibility” for all public sector workers from next year.

And on Saturday, workers in Norwich staged their Smash The Cap protest as they called for the government to lift the cap on other public sector workers, such as teachers and nurses.

The rally began at the steps of City Hall, with speakers from unions such as UNISON, Unite, the GMB and the Norwich Trades Council, before a march through the city, with chants of May Out and songs about Jeremy Corbyn.

Protest march over public sector pay through Norwich City centre.
Picture: Nick ButcherProtest march over public sector pay through Norwich City centre. Picture: Nick Butcher

There was music from The Red Flags and further speeches at City Hall from politicians including Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis.

Public sector pay was frozen for most workers in 2010 and rises have been capped at 1pc since 2013 and Mr Lewis said: “That’s the longest systematic real-terms pay cut since the Victorian era. And it’s a shame [on] every single politician who has voted for austerity in any way, shape or form these last seven years.”

Mr Lewis also accused the government of seeking to “divide and conquer”, following the pay award for police and prison officers and said the Conservatives could see a fresh wave of industrial action over the winter.

The pay award for police officers proved controversial. Norfolk’s chief constable Simon Bailey said his officers deserved the increase, but warned police numbers in the county would have to be cut so officers can be paid more, with no new money from the government to cover the increase.

And Norfolk County Council, which is looking to make £125m of savings by 2022, said if the pay cap is relaxed it could have to make even more savings - assuming no extra government money.

Alan Waters, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, told the rally that his authority wanted to see the cap smashed. He said: “We know the value every day we work with our staff at City Hall.”

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